Lessons in Audio (The Church of England Newspaper)
Last modified: 08 Jan 2004

Source: The Church of England Newspaper
Author: Derek Walker
Date: 08 Jan 2004

Exactly two weeks before the release of Delirious?'s new CD World Service, comedian Ross Noble was featured on Room 101 revealing his chief dislikes to the world. We discovered his loathing of clipboards, his aversion to cats, his aversion to people who look like cats, and his bemusement by ... Christian Rock.

It could have been worse. The BBC researchers could have dug out Delirious?'s worse moments to play to the world. But then there are very few on film. The Newsboys bore the brunt instead -- along with a stereotypical 1960s congregation and some truly awful screeching by the Iva Twydell Band.

Some 30 months ago, when Delirious? last released a studio album, Q magazine made no comment about the music, merely hypothesizing about what would happen should Audio Lessonover (a cheeky anagram of 'Radio One Loves Us') not be the big one that broke the band mainstream.

I asked frontman, Martin Smith, about the review and whether the band feel any pressure to 'succeed' from those watching in the secular press.

"That's quite typical for a mainstream review. Obviously the big story is that we're a Christian band. I can't blame them for that. In the past they've stated that they're into the music; they're into the band, so you can never tell with these things."

Do they ever bear in mind the opinion of the music press when forming the shape of the new album?

A few words into the question, Smith already has the answer, "No. No. It's difficult enough making a record anyway. To think about everyone else while you're doing that is impossible. You've just got to go with your gut reaction and your heart, and hopefully it communicates to people."

Despite the highly commercial sound of this new disc, and the band's involvement with expanding their record company into the American market, neither did this have any bearing on the sound of the new CD.

"You can't really make a record for a market," Smith replies, " I think that would really wind God up. We didn't have any market in mind to be honest; we were very relaxed making this, and really wanted to do what we felt was right for the music.

"Now the record's coming out, I agree with you: it's very commercial. I think it will connect with both markets: England and America -- and mainstream and Christian. I don't know what we did right, but it's a very satisfying result and we're very proud of it!"

The band's relaxation comes through the speakers. At first the music is automatic Delirious? -- almost a disappointing rehash of earlier work. But after a few tracks the band unleash some of the tricks that they learned making Audio Lessonover.

The slow-burning Inside Outside features whisper-sung vocal lines, which set off the chorus like yellow sets off blue. Free features some carefree summertime piano riffs over mixed down distorted guitar. In fact, so much has understatement replaced bombast that at times there almost seems to be more piano than guitar.

Smith needs no excuse to pour out heartfelt passion, and everywhere you turn, there is sumptuous, singable melody. There have been rumours about one of the earlier tracks, Majesty, and its links to the forthcoming Mel Gibson film about Jesus. Martin Smith was able to clarify what really is happening (or not).

"We were playing at a big crusade at Los Angeles, and that trailer was played on the big screen behind us when we played 'Majesty', and those two have sort of come together as one piece. The Mel Gibson people have got that now and are pleased with it, but it's not an official piece of marketing for them. We're hoping, but it's a long shot."

The disc ends with as fine an anthem as they have come up with yet. Every Little Thing has a chorus that could sound trite, but which is balanced out by the verses and their warnings about building life on the beach, with its shifting sands.

For Smith, it's a special track, " Obviously, it's a nod to the Bob Marley song, and it's quite a deep song when you look at the verses. There's a reference about how a lot of what you can do as an individual is build your house on foolish things; but we need an eternal perspective.

"That song -- not on paper, but in spirit -- is dedicated to a dear friend of ours, John Thatcher, who passed away last year. It was one of the last songs I played him, and he died at the age of 44. He absolutely loved it and I sang it at his funeral, so it was very poignant."

World Service is a new studio start after a few compilation albums, so it would be fair to expect a more radical sound.

However, what does come across is perhaps the most definitive Delirious? sound yet; one that includes for the first time all the previous styles -- a retrospective with new songs.

Smith is content with the content, replying, "Is anything these days that radical? It's all been done before. All we can do is put the songs out that God has given us. We're very pleased with the record. It's got some great tunes on. It's emotional, it's spiritual, it's everything we wanted to do, really."

As to the future, "We're excited. It really feels like the beginning of another brand new phase. Your record is the thing that opens the doors for you. At the moment, no big-name spring tours, but we're doing lots and lots of dates throughout next year, including Liverpool Cathedral, Alton Towers, Grapevine, Greenbelt; things that we decided it would be great to hook up with again. We're still on the road!"

Has anybody warned Ross Noble?

Related Pages:
Albums: World Service